Alzheimer’s and Dental Health

Alzheimers

Cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease, is a major concern of the aging population in America. It may now even be the third leading cause of death in America behind only cardiovascular disease and cancer. Although reporting numbers vary, it is safe to say that as of 2014, Alzheimer’s affects approximately 5.2 million Americans and 36 million people globally. Up until recently all of the research to prevent and treat this disease has been focused on identifying a single pathogenic target, and no single drug has been shown to stop or even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. But this may be about to change.

In a small study by Dr. Dale E. Bredesen at the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research along with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, it was found that using a complex, 36 point therapeutic program that involves comprehensive diet changes, brain stimulation, exercise, sleep optimization, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, as well as additional steps affecting brain chemistry, significant improvement in cognitive function has been achieved. (See Bredesen, Dale E., Reversal of Cognitive Decline: A Novel Therapeutic Program, Aging, Sept 2014, Vol.6 N9).

So what’s all this got to do with dentistry you ask? Well, one of the therapies involved in treating dementia with this protocol is reducing the amount of inflammation in the body. Inflammation was found to be a comorbidity in this study. And for those of us with teeth, it has long been known that infection in the gums contributes greatly to the total amount of inflammation in the body, exacerbating other systemic problems like diabetes. Ergo, healthier gums = reduced inflammation = better brain function.

Nine of the 10 people in this study showed significant cognitive improvement following Dr. Bredesen’s protocol. On a personal note, having watched my mother succumb to dementia in her later years, I was glad to see that dental health was recognized in this study as playing a vital role in contributing to cognitive health.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association web page. If you have any questions we can help with relating to reducing inflammation in your mouth, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questions or concerns or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this. Remember, brushing two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily are important ways to take care of your dental health.

Whiter Teeth for Life

Happy New Year!

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As we welcome the new year I want to make it something special…for you! Because many of our patients have expressed an interest in having a whiter, brighter smile, I am announcing a new program in our office that will keep your smile whiter for life. That’s right…FOR LIFE!  It is called “Whiter.Brighter. You. for life” and uses the POLA + whitening program.

This privilege, while absolutely free, does require some rules and regulations. You can see the complete details at the office on your next appointment or on our web site page on tooth whitening. You can also go to www.Polawhite.com for more whitening information on the POLA + whitening program.

Basically, any of our dedicated patients who have had their teeth whitened here in our office and who maintain their regular hygiene re-care appointment schedule will receive a complimentary “Pola” touch up whitening syringe of gel for life.

Any questions on whitening techniques or any other oral health issue related, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA. Best wishes for a healthy new year!

Stranger Than Fiction – U.S. Senate Held Together by Candy

candy_drawerI was astounded to learn recently that the U.S. Senate is in reality held together by candy! Unbelievable, but true! (See the excerpt below from Senator Pat Toomey’s latest email newsletter.) And not only that, but Pennsylvania is one of the leading producers of candy in the country. (Think Hershey’s!) And to think that Pennsylvania now wields power over the U.S. Senate by controlling the “Candy desk” is just mind-blowing!

How this all happened is just too much for my simple mind to understand. I just hope that they stock the Senate bathrooms with toothbrushes and floss!

Happy New Year! Any questions on how to best protect you and your family from oral health problems related to too much candy, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA. Or check back to earlier blog posts: Halloween and the Surprising Truth About Cavities or Candy and tooth decay – It’s raining candy; what’s a parent to do?

PatToomey

A Sweet Seat

This was a big week for Senate Republicans, but before we get into that, I want to talk about something a bit less serious, but important for Pennsylvania.

I am going to continue carrying out the tradition of the Senate “Candy Desk.”  For 50 years, one desk on the Republican side of the Senate chamber has been stocked with treats to share with colleagues. I am proud to announce that I am the newest occupant of this desk.

This is a sweet honor. I can now showcase Pennsylvania confectioners to the other 99 Senators in hopes of sweetening the bitter partisan atmosphere that has consumed the Senate in recent years.

This is also an important industry for our state. Pennsylvania is home to more than 200 confectionery companies, 10,000 confectionery employees, and produces $5 billion worth of candy each year.

I took a moment to discuss this new role; you can watch my video here.

“Give Back a Smile” Program Helps Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Abuse

GBAS

I am proud to be  participating in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation’s (AACDCF) Give Back a Smile (GBAS) program geared to helping heal the effects of domestic violence endured by more than five million individuals each year in the U.S. and Canada. I am one of many volunteer dentists involved with GBAS, which is available to restore the damaged smiles of eligible adult survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

You may not realize that one in four women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime. Chances are, you know someone who’s been affected. GBAS has restored the smiles of more than 1,400 intimate partner violence survivors to date, and we’re looking to help even more. If you know of someone who has suffered injuries to the smile-zone at the hands of a former intimate partner or spouse, family member or due to sexual assault, please contact GBAS.

As a GBAS volunteer dentist, I will provide smile-zone restoration treatment at no charge to eligible adult survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Survivors apply for services through GBAS, and must make an appointment with a counselor, domestic violence advocate, social worker or therapist to complete the advocate section of the GBAS application.

GBAS conducts the initial review of the application, and the volunteer dentist makes the final determination of eligibility. GBAS will connect initially qualified applicants with a local GBAS volunteer, who then provides treatment at no charge. All applicants must fulfill certain criteria established by GBAS.

If you or you know of someone that could be helped by GBAS, or someone who would like to get involved in the program, please visit the GBAS website  or call toll-free 800.773.4227 for more information.

Any questions, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA

Bleachorexia: When to Call it Quits on Teeth Whitening

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Bleachorexia, or as I like to call it, bleachomania, is what occurs when someone over-whitens their teeth. I liken it to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), often but not limited to teenagers, where one is continually finding fault with their appearance.

While most of us would like to have a brighter, whiter smile, especially around the holidays, the bleaching process can certainly be overdone. When this occurs the teeth can become irreversibly pinkish-gray, almost translucent at the edges and quite sensitive.

There are many options to achieving a whiter smile including over the counter whitening strips, in-office bleaching, at home bleaching, whitening toothpastes and if all else fails, porcelain laminate veneers. You can find more information at Mouth Healthy, an information website by the American Dental Association or by visiting my website page on teeth whitening.

The most important consideration is that you choose the option right for you. That’s where professional advice is critical. While white strips may be fine for some, I’ve seen so many problems with whitening occur over the years that I would recommend professional supervision with almost any technique.

It’s what folks don’t know that can get them into trouble and potentially ruin that smile that we all want for the holidays!

Any questions on tooth whitening or any other oral health issue, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questions or concerns or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this.

Mentoring Dental Students

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For the second year I have been asked to mentor dental students at my alma mater, Temple University. Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry is the only Dental school in the country with such a program. It’s called “Mentoring for Life,” and is intended to help guide dental students through school and transition them into the profession.

Once again I was paired with a very diverse group of students. Temple University has the distinction of being one of the most diverse campuses in the nation! I must say though, that regardless of their background, these students also have a lot in common. They are bright, hardworking and inquisitive. They are also nervous about their futures, much like I was at their age.

As I look forward to a year of getting to know my young charges better, I can’t help but feel that we are all in good hands going forward. The future of dentistry is bright with such capable young minds positioned to lead the profession. And the public should also feel comfortable knowing that the dentists being trained today will be the best the world has ever seen!

Any questions about this program or your oral health feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questions or concerns or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this.

Dental Check-ups = Prevention

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Sometimes I feel like a broken record, constantly reminding people of how important it is to see their dentist for regular dental check-ups. Two recent experiences though remind me of how important it really is to “hold the line”.

A month or so ago I helped to deliver over a million dollars in donated dental services to more than 2,000 needy people in the Allentown area in one weekend! This event, called a MOM (Mission of Mercy)-n-PA Event, was staffed by over 400 volunteer dentists, dental hygienists and assistants. Many of the patients receiving care had not seen a dentist in years, and believe me, it showed. Most people were having hopeless and infected teeth removed – a result of years of neglect. It’s just sad that so much of this could have been so easily prevented.

The second case actually occurred in my own practice. A patient who visits me infrequently came to have her teeth cleaned. I hadn’t seen her in the office in over a year. Decay had started without her knowledge under a large filling in one of her back molar teeth. Now, instead of an inexpensive repair, the tooth needs to be restored with a crown and may even need root canal therapy.

There are lessons to be learned in all of this: An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure, especially at today’s prices! People also have to take responsibility for their own circumstances to the extent that they can. I can tell people to brush and floss, Even show them how to do it, but I can’t make them do it.

As your dentist, my goal is to help you achieve optimal dental oral health. Whenever you have questions about any dental care product, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questions or concerns or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this. Remember, brushing two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily are important ways to take care of your dental health.

Halloween and the Surprising Truth about Cavities

Halloweenblog

Yes, it’s that time of year again – Halloween – now second only to the Christmas holiday in the amount of money and attention we pay to it as a culture. Halloween – that time of year when children across the country dream of dressing up as their favorite character and scouring the neighborhood for as much candy as they can carry. And for parents – it’s a time for enjoying the festivities but in the back of their minds – the worry of “sugared up” hyperactive kids bouncing off the walls and the inevitable tooth decay and dental bills from all of that sugar.

But if you think that it all begins with that first candy bar you couldn’t be more mistaken. The truth is that your child’s teeth are at risk long before their first exposure to sugar. Tooth decay is actually the result of a bacterial infection, specifically lactobacillus. Infants are born without these cavity-producing germs but typically are infected by their mothers before the age of two through sharing utensils and toothbrushes.

Once infected, children will be prone to decay for the rest of their lives! Sugars and other starchy carbohydrates contribute to the problem because they are the bacteria’s favorite food. Bacteria easily turn these foods into acids that eat away at the structure of the teeth by depleting calcium. Once the decay process destroys enough of the integrity of the tooth structure, it collapses, causing a cavity or hole in the tooth.

Bacteria do the most damage when they “colonize” on the surface of the tooth and form a transparent sticky film known as “plaque”. Plaque is actually a bio-film and concentrates the acids produced by the bacteria on the tooth surface. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that bio-films cause 80% of all human illnesses! It may also surprise you to know that at least 4 million preschoolers (about 40% of all 2-5 year olds) suffer from tooth decay making it the most common disease in children, affecting even more kids than asthma and diabetes!

In recent years tooth decay has been on the rise in part for the following reasons:

  • Some communities have opted to discontinue fluoridating their community water supplies. (Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to the acids produced by decay causing bacteria.) This is particularly surprising in light of the fact that the CDC has stated that community water fluoridation is one of the top ten public health advances in the last 100 years!
  • There has been an increase in the use of bottled water, which typically does not contain fluoride.
  • The prevalence of high fructose corn (HFC) syrup used as a sweetener in most of our processed foods including juices and sodas. HFC syrup can actually be more damaging to our teeth than other sugars! Sodas are particularly harmful because they are acidic to begin with and lower the pH of the saliva, making it even more acidic.
  • Many of us get our drinking water from wells that may not be naturally fluoridated.
  • Access to care in underserved areas of the country, and in some underserved populations, continues to be an issue in this country as well as a throughout the world.

So here is a list of my top 10 things you can do to improve the dental health of your children:

  1. Make sure your child has a dental check-up by the age of one as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and has regular visits thereafter.
  2. Use fluoride supplements if your local water is not fluoridated. Your dentist or pediatrician can supply you with appropriate prescriptions.
  3. Limit exposure to sugar and starchy carbohydrates, especially around the holidays. And remember, it’s not the total amount of sweets consumed, but the number of exposures to sweets throughout the day that matters most. I recall the mother of a childhood friend who took control of the Halloween stash and periodically doled it out to my friend over the next several months following the holiday!
  4. Set a good example. Take care of your own smile by practicing good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing regularly.
  5. Make sure your child brushes twice a day (after breakfast and before bed) for two minutes each time. Choose a child size toothbrush with soft bristles and replace it every 3-4 months.
  6. Consider using Xylitol products. Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute. It comes from beech trees and other natural plant sources and is “non-nutritive” to the bacteria that cause decay. It is also completely safe. (Studies have even shown that expectant mothers that chew Xylitol gum give birth to children who have healthier mouths!)
  7. Never allow infants to sleep or toddlers to walk around with milk or juice drinks. This produces what dentists call “baby bottle tooth decay”.
  8. Avoid toothpastes containing fluoride for children under the age of two; they tend to swallow it. Use water or a non-fluoridated toothpaste.
  9. For children ages 2-6 years old, use a pea-sized amount of a fluoride toothpaste, and make sure they spit it out after brushing. Any more than that is wasted.
  10. And remember – when in doubt, ask your dentist. With proper guidance, most children should be able to graduate high school today with no cavities!

There are many helpful references to this important topic, some of which have been used to develop this article. These include the ADA’s brochure: “Happiness is a Healthy Smile: A Message for Parents”, available through your local dentist, and Rebecca Feisenthal’s article in Parents Magazine: “The Surprising Truth About Cavities”, published in the October 2006 issue and available online at: http://www.parents.com/baby/health/baby-teeth/cavities/.

Other helpful websites where you can read more about this important topic include:
http://www.MouthHealthy.org (the ADA’s consumer site with a complete section on babies and kids)
www.choosemyplate.gov (for more information on healthy foods and drinks for your children)

Feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questionsor concerns on this important topic, or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this. In the meantime, have a safe and happy Halloween!

Microbeads in Toothpaste – What you should know.

The ADA Speaks Out on “Good Morning America”

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I received the following issues alert from the American Dental Association (ADA) which I thought would be useful to you. I am reprinting this important information below.

ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) contacted the ADA for a segment that aired in September on microbeads (polyethylene) in toothpaste. All of the varieties of Crest ProHealth® toothpaste which have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain microbeads.

The ADA provided a press statement to the GMA producer indicating, “According to the American Dental Association, clinically relevant dental health studies do not indicate that the ADA Seal should be removed from toothpastes that contain polyethylene microbeads. Products with the ADA Seal have been independently evaluated for safety and effectiveness by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.”

Local news stations, including ABC 7 Chicago, have previously reported on microbeads from health and environmental angles. Procter & Gamble (P&G), the manufacturer of Crest ProHealth®, includes information for the public on their website and has indicated they plan to remove microbeads from toothpaste.

According to P&G, “While the ingredient in question is completely safe, approved for use in foods by the FDA and part of an enjoyable brushing experience for millions of consumers with no issues, we understand there is a growing preference for us to remove this ingredient. So we will. Crest will continue to provide consumers with effective and enjoyable products which are designed to their preferences.”

The following are some responses prepared by the ADA on questions regarding microbeads in toothpaste:

  • Microbeads have been in the news lately. You may have heard about it in connection with toothpaste.
  • Microbeads are most often used as scrubbing beads in exfoliating skin care products.
  • The FDA has approved microbeads as a food additive, and small quantities, which appear as colored specks, are in some of Crest’s toothpastes, including Crest Pro Health, which has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
  • According to the ADA, clinically relevant dental health studies do not indicate that the ADA Seal should be removed from toothpastes that contain microbeads.
  • Products with the ADA Seal have been independently evaluated for safety and effectiveness by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.
  • While there is no clinical evidence that microbeads in toothpaste are harmful to your dental health, Crest is voluntarily withdrawing the ingredient from toothpaste in response to growing consumer preference.

As your dentist, my goal is to help you achieve optimal dental oral health. Whenever you have questions about any dental care product, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questions or concerns or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this. Remember, brushing two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily are important ways to take care of your dental health.

See you soon!

7 Tips For Treating Dry Mouth

In July I wrote a blog about 15 drugs that can cause dry mouth (Xerostomia).There are actually hundreds of medications that can cause dry mouth, a particularly nasty problem that can cause rampant tooth decay, oral infections, difficulty in chewing and swallowing, and otherwise make people miserable. Xerostomia can also be especially difficult to treat, so I am suggesting a few simple things you can do to help in treating dry mouth to manage this malady.
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  1. Sip water throughout the day.
  2. Suck on ice (but do not chew it!).
  3. Discontinue alcohol (including mouthwashes containing alcohol), caffeine and sodas – all of which can dry out the mouth.
  4. Humidify your sleeping area with a cool mist vaporizer.
  5. Keep your lips lubricated with lanolin or Lansinoh, an over-the counter (OTC) ointment.
  6. Use fluoride supplements to fight decay.
  7. Consider using Biotene (OTC) oral care products including their toothpaste, mouth rinse and mouth moisturizing gel.Taken together, the Biotene products constitute an “enzyme replacement system” which can be very beneficial for dry mouth patients.

I hope these simple suggestions help if you suffer from dry mouth. As always, please contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questions or concerns or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this. See you soon!